For the third consecutive year, FC Barcelona faced Bayern Munich in the Champions League, and left the game as losers. This time around, it was nothing like the staggering, historic 8-2, or the quieter, yet humbling 3-0 victories in both the legs of the group stage, but a closer score line of 2-0 to Bayern. The score speaks too little of what really happened in the game and essentially, the fact remains that Barcelona could have won the game and had more to give in the game. Here are the lessons Barcelona can learn from the loss, per Marca.
Barcelona showed their supremacy in the first half that ended 0-0, and it was obvious that the Catalonians had improved in terms of both the squad and tactics since the last time Bayern met them. The most important player on the pitch for them, a certain Polish Bayern alumnus, himself had numerous chances, but he was forced to walk out of the Allianz Arena empty-handed. Robert Lewandowski also made an awful miss, which shouldn’t be seen from an attacker of his calibre on a stage like this game.
With as many chances as they created, Barcelona could not leave with a clean sheet — missing all of their chances. It was not just Lewandowski whose usual prolific form was missing, the likes of Pedri, Raphinha, and Ansu Fati found themselves unable to convert either — and that brings us to lesson number 1.
Poor finishing, or a complete lack of it, will derail anyone on the European stage, and especially against opponents of this calibre, missing chances is very costly.
However, credit must be given where it is due — Barça did not let Bayern get the ball out comfortably and forced them to make mistakes. Sergio Busquets and Gavi won the ball countless times for the Catalonians. Pedri was also brilliant — he was the axis through which Barcelona’s attack played. He however, failed to convert two big chances, one in each half.
Bayern’s victory had a simple explanation. A rejuvenated Bayern in the second half worked tirelessly to score goals and maintain the defending that they’d done so far. From the very start, it was the Bavarians’ defense that shone — while most other players were underperforming in levels unknown, the defense shone in quality. Lucas Hernandez, Noussair Mazraoui, Alphonso Davies and Dayot Upamecano truly ran the game for Bayern, bailing them out on every occasion and as a result, emerged victorious with a clean sheet.
For Barça, however, it was a different story. The defense in the first half was quite decent but worsened during the second half, and it all started with the mistake made in the second half. Hernandez went in alone to finish in the penalty area, and he did so without the goalkeeper’s intervention. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen did nothing about the Frenchman. The fact remains that Xavi is still on tinkering-mode, trying to find his backline, which brings us to the second and final learning point.
Barcelona still don’t have their defense ready — and in big games, no matter how many chances are created and converted, it is a team’s defense that wins it games.
Barça were perhaps unfortunate to have lost the game, but it is undeniable they had luck on their side too — on their day, this Bayern side is simply unplayable. Come second leg, Barcelona will be looking for revenge, having stepped up their and Bayern will have a very tough 90 minutes at the Spotify Camp Nou, but it will be an exciting affair — and aren’t such fixtures what make football all the more better?